He’s not really overweight, is he?

The house was rocking — so to speak — at St. Francis of Assisi in West Nyack last night.

I don’t want to overstate Archbishop Tim Dolan’s appeal only weeks after he got to town. But, boy, people were excited.

There were more than 1,000 people there, with hundreds sitting in folding chairs and people lined up along the walls. And people seemed to be excited about the excitement that Dolan brings.

Everyone I talked to said something about a fresh start for the Catholic Church in New York. It’s like a big, slow exhale…

Dolan was funny, of course. He made quite a few cracks about food and his expanding waistline (which really isn’t that large, now, is it?).

And he emphasized that all the fuss is not about him. It’s about Jesus.

Dolan said that when he was in Milwaukee, a fellow from out of town said he wanted to become a Milwaukee priest because he wanted to serve with Dolan. But Dolan claims he told the guy that he was only a hamburger away from a heart attack and that the fellow needed to serve the church and not Tim Dolan.

A telling story in the midst of Dolan mania.

By the way, quite a few people came up to me to tell me that they liked my blog or my overall work covering religion. It was quite surprising and means a lot. So thanks.

In a bit, I’m heading to the Big City to watch a bunch of United Methodists perform random acts of kindness.

They’re doing it as part of a new national initiative called RETHINK CHURCH.

What exactly does it mean to perform random acts of kindness in New York City. ? I’ll find out.

Photos by Vincent DiSalvio / The Journal News

Watch out for random acts of kindness

I mentioned recently that the United Methodist Church is starting a new national ministry called RETHINK CHURCH,  which begins Wednesday, May 6 with a major advertising campaign.

As the denomination explains it: “RETHINK CHURCH seeks to redefine the church experience beyond the church doors and invite people to become engaged in the world. The campaign aims to spark a global conversation around the rhetorical question, “What if church were a verb?””

They say the idea is to inspire church members AND the unchurched to become more engaged in their communities and the world.

Here in the New York Conference of the UMC, the campaign will begin on Wednesday with YouTube, iPod and other digital media aimed at people 18-36. RETHINK CHURCH ads will also appear in subways, train stations and on taxis.

And then there is this: 200 volunteers will spread out across Manhattan and perform random acts of kindness.

How will New Yorkers respond to random acts of kindness? I hope to find out.

United Methodist ministers talk, share, debate, and laugh

Just got back from a meeting of United Methodist ministers from across Westchester.

The group meets regularly to talk about the week’s Scripture readings, get ideas for sermons, share things that have come up in their congregations, and basically support each other in any ways they can.

Today they had nine people. Sometimes they get more, sometimes less.

I’ll be writing about the group for Saturday’s FaithBeat column.

These are people who are often expected by their congregations to “have all the answers.” They’re the clergy, the spiritual leaders, of congregations. But they don’t have all the answers.

That’s why they come together to discuss passages from Scripture that they have already read and thought about countless times. They question each other, sometimes debate a point, and often come away with new perspectives. Several ministers told me that they often come to the meetings with the seed of a sermon in their heads, but leave with entirely different thoughts and plans.

It’s Bible study for the teachers of Bible study.

It was a humble group. They and their congregations have been battered by the economy, like everyone else. They’re trying to teach the Gospel while helping to guide people through tumultuous times in their lives.

It’s not always easy being the boss. Fortunately, these folks seem to enjoy each other’s company.